It was once a cricketing lab to test the future and potential of untried players for the country’s senior professional team. Now it serves as a repository that offers succor to the tried and tested let-down cases who use it to attempt a comeback with some runs under their belt against second string opposition.
It is called the Sri Lanka A team and is interestingly in the hands of Dimuth Karunaratne who had a miserable run against Australia in the recent home series aggregating a howling 41 runs batting six times.
Karunaratne captains the team that already featured in a first of three four-day matches against the visiting West Indies A team this week in Colombo.
But the south paw opener does not hide the fact that he can use the team and occasion to nudge for a place in the Sri Lanka senior side for upcoming tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“The selectors want me to play my natural game and I strongly believe I can come back (into the Sri Lanka team)”, Karunaratne said on the eve of the matches.
With Karunaratne are two other fallen players, Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne who are hoping to salvage their careers by courtesy of the A team concept.
At 28 years of age, Karunaratne has played in 31 Tests with the senior team while Perera has played seven Tests and 63 ODI matches and Thirimanne in 27 Tests and 107 ODIs.
Their place in the A team is evidence of how Sri Lankan cricket selectors have been playing their part in moulding the country’s players who are given everything from a foreign coach to a multi-faceted backstage team, except proper management.
Chief executive officer of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Ashley de Silva will acknowledge the importance and founding principle of the A team concept.
“We have provided the pathway for players to reach national (Sri Lanka team) level. This is an occasion for the next level of players to come through”, De Silva said referring to the A team.
Unfortunately for future players who have been overlooked to make way for the senior failures, De Silva is no selector.
One of the players not in the Sri Lanka A team to face the West Indies A side, and probably an example of bad-management, must be batsman Angelo Perera who was touted by head selector Sanath Jayasuriya as being able to “walk into the senior team at any time” three years ago.
Sri Lanka A team coach Avishka Gunawardena who is no stranger to the mismanagement of players also declared on the eve of the series that he could only look forward to some prospective performances from the young players at his disposal.
“We have four under-19 World Cup players in the side and I am looking forward to some exciting times with them. I am excited to see how they go and hopefully it will be an interesting series”, said Gunawardena whose career as an opening batsman was never allowed to flourish in accordance with his explosive talents.
Batsmen Charith Asalanka and Avishka Fernando along with fast bowlers Asitha Fernando and Lahiru Kumara make up the four teenagers.